Notes Wrap-Up: Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence

Below you will find the individual links to the posts on Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence. Introduction critique. I have also uploaded a version to print or download (in a number of formats) at my Scribd site. I have cleaned up a few typos here and there in that final version, but they are still rough and ready reading notes.

I have considered writing a kind of synthetic post where I draw out the implications of the book and try to translate them into something that is more immediately graspable. The only problem with that is Laruelle’s gambit is to try and think differently, to think truly immanently, and so doing so might risk inscribing that project into some other philosophical decisions. Maybe this is unavoidable prior to the Gnostic apocalypse of the Real, but if I find some time I may still do this as a helpful exercise for the dissertation.

Theoretically the next book I should do this with would be Philosophie et non-philosophie, but I’ve already read that one with notes (though not ones I feel comfortable making public) and so I’m going to move on to his magnum opus Principes de la non-philosophie next. It is in this work that the method of non-philosophy becomes clear and thus what non-philosophy offers and does becomes more clear.

Index of posts:

Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter VII: Theory of the Philosophical Decision

This is the final chapter of Les Philosophies de la différence and by far the most important for future work by Laruelle. It ends in a kind of failure, which is interesting in itself, but a failure on philosophical terms that opens up to the work of Philosophy III where Laruelle breaks from sufficiency of philosophy more rigorously. I’ll be posting the notes as a PDF tomorrow with a final wrapping up post. – APS

“From the Undecideable to the theory of the philosophical decision”

Every system of Difference (philosophy), even those of Finitude, have posed the question, what is the essence of the philosophical act? But they have not been able to pose that question outside of that essence and that is the problem of a real logic of the philosophical decision and the status of a principle of real non philosophical [no dash in original] choice in philosophy. The only point of view that is radical immanent and transcendental to the philosophical decision is that of the “immediation” of the non-thetic (of) self, that is the One.

“The (non-)One and the contingency of the philosophical decision”

What are the effects of the One on the philosophical decision? Laruelle says there are two kinds. This section explains the first and the following explains the second. The first is the manifestation of a hallucinatory character of the non-real of the decision that is rejected in turn through a radical contingency that is the correlate of the One.

Laruelle gives a general definition of the philosophical decision: “In general, a philosophical decision is a break [coupure] – repeated and revived – towards an empirical or, more generally, given singularity and, at the same time, and an identification with an idealizes law that it gives, supposing itself then real, a transcendence towards the truly real. It is a relation and it adjusts itself each time according to the real assumed given and reduced, and of the real assumed achieved and affirmed (215).” Read the rest of this entry »

Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter V: Derrida

“Derrida between Nietzsche and Heidegger”

This study of Derrida is placed into the analytic of Difference. This is in order, not to denounce the philosophical decision, but to understand it within the frame of not real, hallucinatory, and required. Derrida is the thinker who carries the philosophical decision to its pure and simple aporetic dislocation. The deconstruction of metaphyics is the “truth” of it, the enlarging of it and radicalizing of it as inconsistent that characterises the non-real, purely fictional and hallucinatory that is philosophy in general. This comes with a complimentary thesis that states “the auto-dislocation of the philosophical decision is at the same time its becoming-unitary, its auto-collapse, its auto-inhibition in itself  – its paralysis (122).”

He is not applying deconstruction to itself. Rather this study evaluates from a non deconstructive point of  view the mechanism (its validity suspended from the One) of “Differance” and of the affection of the logos by differance. Laruelle uses the capital in order to designate the glocal system of Difference (without the a) and the lower case to designate the moment of alterity, cutting, or slowing down of continuities and the specificity of the system of Differance. The same goes for Deconstrution (the type) and the deconstruction (the procedure).

What Laruelle hopes to show is that Differance is one of three types of Difference, the other two being the Greco-Nietzschean and Deleuzian Difference and the Heideggerian Differenz. Yet, at the same time, Derrida introduces an original and important variation into the tradition and this constitutes Derrida’s irreducibility into the philosophical field. That variation is found in the Jewish component that Derrida inserts between the Nietzschean and Heideggerain poles of Difference. Specifically, against the Greek notion of Difference and the Greek notion of finitude, Derrida presents an elaboration of Jewish finitude. Levinas does not present the same thing, as Derrida has shown a Greek symptom in Levinas as well, and so what Derrida adds is not the difference of the Greek and the Jew, but the Jewish mode of the aporia. Read the rest of this entry »

Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter IV: Hegel and Heidegger

[N.B. I’m not summarizing a great deal of the technical discussion of Hegel and Heidegger here. Largely because Laruelle assumes a lot of knowledge form his reader, some of which I have and some which I do not, but also because I’m not really interested in his reading of the figures as such. Thus I try to touch on the important aspects of his own thought and so the notes for this chapter are a littler shorter than the others. – APS]

“The insufficiency of syntax and the passage to Finitude”

In this chapter Laruelle will explore the difference between Difference and the dialectical “Concept”, hence the title “Hegel and Heidegger”.

Difference is circularity and reversibility. If one considers Difference only from the point of view of syntax it seems to give much of itself to Aufhebung. It is a reversible immanence of contraries, each opposed being one with its its other and with itself, and thus also the contrary of itself. Difference does not exceed, in the general conception of its mechanism or the syntax of its essence, the Greek horizon. The reason that syntax is insufficient to the reality of Difference is because it inscribes Difference into a question of identities and contraries, which turns out to quickly be insufficient when you ask questions about the identity itself. Thus working from syntax only is an idealist vision of reality and this is what differentiates Heidegger’s insertion of Finitude into Difference from the rest of the tradition. Read the rest of this entry »

Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter III: Reality of Difference

I should note that, somewhat on accident, I have not been noting differences in syntax that can be found in Laruelle’s early to late work. For instance in this text he speaks of the Vision-in-the-One [Vision-en-l'Un] whereas in latter works it is simple Vision-in-One [Vision-en-Un]. I’m not sure if there is a reason for this, though since he changes his stance on the authority of science from this work (in the period of Philosophy II) to the next (Philosophy III), it is a live possibility that he no longer thinks of the One, but simple One of which there can be many. Also of note is that he talks about the Real here but he does so without the capital letter. At times I have have followed him and at times slipped into my knowledge of his later work. I can’t think of a good reason for this change except maybe in later work he’s trying to emphasize the autonomy of the Real from thought. - APS

“From Syntax to the reality of Difference”

Difference thinking itself or reflecting itself implies the disjunction and belonging between syntax and reality, the articulation of the real and the experience of the real articulated. This chapter examines the reality of difference in that disjunction.

In order to consider the reality of Difference Laruelle has recourse to the philosophical discussion about finitude. He describes the Heideggerian notion of “Finitude” in quasi-Kantian terms as the irreducible distinction of being in self in relation to the objective or present being, the ob-ject. Opposed to this is the Nietzschean raising of Finitude to the auto-position of Being as essence. This is inseperated from the idealist and classic metaphysical spirit. Read the rest of this entry »

Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter II: Syntax of Difference

“Difference as the Form of Order [forme d’ordre]”

The One, as its essence is saved from the philosophical decision, is no Difference and has no need of it. But difference is a philosophical interpretation of the One and does have need of it. This chapter thus deals with the question of how to pass from the One (concretely and absolutely without-division) to the syntax of Difference as the articulation of the philosophical decision and thus to the minimum or residual syntax of all possible philosophy.

Difference is an inclusive dis-junction in which each “neither… nor…” and “not”, though negative, produce or immediately give the Indivision. In this way we can see that the philosophies of Difference repeat a fundamental gesture from neoplatonism – the via negationis. This is a philosophical technology that is traditional and found in “the adventures of transcendence and decision (38).”

The One is not “unified unity” (for this would mean it was divisible) but “unifying unity”, this being the transcendental sense of the One rather than empirco-ideal. [Note there is a subtle differentiation here about “unities” in Laruelle. The One (a name for the Real) is a unifying unity because it cannot be itself split (even if we try to split it it remains indifferent to this “artificial” splitting) while the objects of thought, even non-philosophical thought like “unified theories”, can be split up into their parts and rearranged in an infinite amount of mutations. – APS] Read the rest of this entry »

Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Introduction: From the Aporias of Difference to the Vision-in-One

The first section is entitled, “How Difference became a philosophical decision”. Difference is understood here as a name for the constellation which assembles certain contemporaries in complex relations but nevertheless remain in proximity to one another. This means Nietzsche and Heidegger but also those who follow after them (Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida). Difference is the shadow of the old Greco-occidental world. The dominance of “Being” on thought came to be replaced, partly due to Heidegger’s own thinking, by “Difference”. Difference isn’t an Idea or a category, but rather a syntax and concrete invariant of philosophy.

“Difference is a syntax, a manifesting of articulating philosophical language. It is also a thesis of reality, a certain experience, itself multiple, of the real (16).” It is a functional unity of both syntax and experience which elevates it to the level of a principle – real and “transcendentally” logics – and in this way is an instance of the philosophical Decision that can be found in other such principles (Contradiction, Existence, Structure). Read the rest of this entry »

Notes on François Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence: Introduction critique – “Instructions for Use”

Adam has championed the posting of reading notes for the benefit of our own scholarship and the interest of AUFS readers. His notes on Agamben’s two most recent works, still not available in English but both being translated, have been very helpful to me and I’m sure to many others. Following the example he set and that our friend Andy followed with his notes on Foucault’s last lecture series I have decided to post notes on my reading of some of Laruelle’s key texts. I see two major reasons for doing this. First, it will be a helpful exercise for me as I finish up the translation of Future Christ and begin writing on Laruelle and non-philosophy in the first two chapters of my dissertation. Secondly, I hope that having more information on Laruelle that sticks close to his text will help deepen some of the engagement with non-philosophy in the philosophical blogosphere (and, of course, I hope it spread beyond there). Read the rest of this entry »


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